Greetings from LA - where the freeways loop the loop, straights fear to tread, and the stars get so high they're spinning. Sam (Bale) and his fiancée Alex (Beckinsale), Harvard Med School alumni steeped, respectively, in psychiatry and fruit-fly sex, are the town's latest new blood, come to borrow his mother's crash pad out north of the Hollywood Hills, abashed to find they'll be rubbing noses with her latest live-in rock retinue. A confirmed lady of the canyon, Jane (McDormand) is a successful record producer and unreconstructed hedonist, currently banging the drum with her Brit-band charges' lead singer (Nivola), a fellow swinger something like her son's age. Hot under the collar, Sam immerses himself in work and the attentions of a sexy colleague, Sara (McElhone). Left to her flies, Alex finds her curiosity stimulated by the rhythms down the hall. A sensuous, fluent follow-up to her boho lesbian eye-opener High Art, Cholodenko's five-handed character study lets some air into that film's slightly precious microcosm. Sure, the drama's rigged - Sam and Alex's ivory-tower primness sits on the cusp of satire (Sam to Sara: 'I think we should take the high road: sublimation') - but at home in LA, Cholodenko shows a sure feeling for the heightening possibilities of folk getting their rocks off. There are a couple of bum notes, but this is mostly lush stuff, worth a dip.
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